Decisions, decisions

Decisions, decisions

Features - Cover Story

These key choices you should be making can maximize your company’s potential.

September 12, 2011
Brian Horn

OK, so you are at the top of the food chain – you're running the show and everyone looks to you to make decisions. But there are some choices you aren't making that could be hindering your company's success. Marty Grunder spoke at a conference in Dayton, Ohio, about some key decisions you should make to boost your sales.

Find out what your client wants. Grunder saw an ad for a car wash with a cafe in it. It sounded like a good idea, so one Saturday he took his car there to get it washed. Except, the place was closed. A car wash closed on a Saturday? Grunder went in the next day and found out the car wash was closed for religious reasons. Grunder says there's nothing wrong with closing for religious purposes – Chick-fil-A closes on Sundays and makes it work.

"But, if you're a brand new upstart and you're going to close on Saturday, you've got to make sure that you understand who your customer is. You can't just have this 'Build, and they will come mentality' and just think you're smarter than everybody else," he says.

Ask for the sale in a nice way. While it can be frustrating, Grunder says cold calling potential customers helps move a business forward. "I'm amazed at how many sales people today haven't made a decision to ask for a sale," he says. Grunder says he also looks to his current customers to find other customers. "You go and you ask other happy clients to help you find more," he says. "They like to do that, if you've done a good job."

But no matter who you are asking for business, you have to ask nicely because people want to buy something, not be sold, Grunder says.

Deliver as promised, and then some. Grunder says he is amazed that some companies make a sale and then think they have it all figured out. You do everything possible to get a client – late meetings, returning their calls immediately – but as soon as you have them signed, there are no more late night meetings and the return call can wait until tomorrow.

Grunder says he tries to continually validate for the customer why they chose his company. Once he has the client signed, "that is when the selling really starts," he says.

Have a passion to follow-up. Grunder and his company sometimes get carry-out lunch from Bob Evans. And every time they do, the manager calls around 2 p.m. to make sure everything was good. Normally, 2 p.m. isn't a busy time at a restaurant, so instead of taking a break, the manager makes the courtesy call.

"Companies that understand that the customer is boss, they don't sit around reading magazine on sports or things like that," Grunder says referring to a manager's downtime. Grunder also stresses to employees the importance of following up with customers.

"The follow-up part is important," Grunder says. "It's a slow process that you need to go through on a daily basis."

Underpromise and overdeliver. There's nothing wrong with under promising. In fact, it works in your benefit.

"If you think you can be there next Wednesday, tell them you'll be there next Friday," Grunder says. "Think about how you can position yourself so that you are underpromising and overdelivering."

Grunder says the concept of doing a little bit extra is here to stay for a while because the customer has the upper hand. He says you can do little things like sending a customer an article in the newspaper you thought would interest them, or sending them a birthday card.

And don't limit doing a little extra for just customers. You also have to take care of your internal customers. Grunder has employees fill out questionnaires where they write down their favorite hot or cold drink. That way, if Grunder is driving to a job site, he can bring the appropriate beverage.

"How can you expect your people to treat your clients like kings and queens," Grunder says "if you're not treating them like kings and queens?"


The author is associate editor at Lawn & Landscape. You can reach him at